Maher: ‘Violent, uncivilized’ Islamists ‘bring that desert stuff to our world’

By David Edwards and Diana Sweet
Thursday, May 6, 2010 11:21 EDT
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Jokes Pat Robertson doesn’t have the power to cut off your arms

Bill Maher, a self-described Libertarian but outspoken critic of Bush and many conservative GOP policies, has many fans on the left. But even though he’s pretty much against all religions, his thoughts on Islamists and the Muslim faith in general might turn a few heads.

During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday night, the comedic host of HBO’s  Real Time with Bill Maher shared his thoughts on the Times Square bombing suspect, Pakistani native Faisal Shahzad, and the Muslim faith.

Cooper played a clip from Maher’s latest show which aired Friday, in which he claimed that “our culture” was better than Islamist culture because its better at taking jokes:

When “South Park” got threatened last week by Islamists incensed at their depiction of Mohammad, it served, or should serve, as a reminder to all of us that our culture isn’t just different than one that makes death threats to cartoonists. It’s better.

Because when I make a joke about the pope, he doesn’t send one of his Swiss guards in their striped pantaloons to stick a pike in my ass. When I make a Jewish joke, rabbis might kvetch about it, but they don’t pull out a scimitar and threaten an adult circumcision. And when I insult Scientology, the worst that happens is that…

“So I mean, why is Islam the one religion about which so many in America and the west censor themselves when it comes to talking about it or making fun of it? Is it just fear?” Cooper asked Maher.

Maher, who is known for his outspoken, blistering religious critiques, answered,

Absolutely. Absolutely. Because they’re violent. Because they threaten us, and they are threatening. They bring that desert stuff to our world. I said the same thing Friday night. You know, we don’t threaten each other; we sue each other. That’s the sign of civilized people. And — and they don’t. You know, yes, we do have religious nuts in this country. There was a cleric in Iran who recently said that earthquakes were caused by slutty women. Well, Pat Robertson once said that abortions caused hurricanes, I think. But the difference is Pat Robertson doesn’t have the power to cut your arms off.

Aside from abortion extremists, there really isn’t a big problem with violence from the devout in America.

“You know, I mean, people who want to gloss over the difference between western culture and Islamic culture and forget about the fact that the Islamic culture is 600 years younger and that they are going through the equivalent of what the west went through with our Middle Ages, our Dark Ages, when religion had way too much power and we had inquisitions and things like that, do so at their peril. You know, when they caught this guy — yes, go ahead.”

CNN’s 360 host gets more direct in his questioning of Maher with “When you hear, you know, the oft refrain from American Muslims is the vast majority of American Muslims abhor this kind of stuff. You know, they will say, look, Islam is a religion of peace. Do you buy that?”

“Yes, they blow you up. There’s a piece of you over there. There’s a piece of you over there. There’s a piece of you over there,” is Maher’s response.

“Is it a religion of peace? You know, I don’t know. I have not read the Koran in its original. When you read the translation, there are many, many, many passages that are not peaceful at all, that are about killing the infidel and so forth.”

“There are many passages like that in the Bible, too. Not as many. And we don’t take it seriously. That’s the difference. We blow off our religions. If we took the Bible seriously, we’d look over our fence on Sunday morning, see our neighbor mowing his lawn and think, “Hmm, working on Sunday. I really should kill him.” But we don’t do that.”

“You know, there are entire schools — you know this, Anderson. You’re a globetrotter. You’ve been to madrassas in Pakistan and so forth. Entire schools where the kids read just one book. They’re memorizing the Koran. That’s all they do. You know, that’s not what we do in this country.”

Bill Maher also wrote, directed, and acted in the film ‘Religulous,’ a rather snarky documentary — billed as the “#1 sacreligious comedy in America — in which he bluntly disputes the value of religion.

This video is from CNN’s AC 360, broadcast May 5, 2010.

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